For people who have friends they'd love keeping in touch with but can't actually be bothered to pick up the phone, and people who'd love to be worldly but aren't always inclined to check a slew of news sites catering to their interests, the answer is like so Obvious.
Or brought to you by Obvious, anyway: enter Twitter, a messaging platform that keeps users informed and in touch and all with a minimum of those precious mouse clicks.Ian Curry of Frog Design notes Twitter takes advantage of (is it still possible?) a new way to blog called "tumblelogging," a fancy word for social mini-blogging. Users can create and send out one or two-line entries, or just a picture, that they post to Twitter via IM, by phone or on the internet.
A bit reminiscent of how RSS sites like Bloglines work, except tinny in comparison, your contacts instantly receive whatever information you've quickly, and hopefully thoughtfully, tapped out. Conversely, you receive everything they see fit to make instant news.
Because every business that's any business has an open interface for either gleaning social energy or absorbing consumer critiques, the Twitter API is flexible. Users can create Twitter-friendly tools and give them equally cute little names. Indeed, successful Twitter APIs thus far bear names that sound like the verbal equivalent of cuddly, bug-eyed animated characters.
This includes IconFactory's Twitterific, an API that parks on toolbars and makes little pop-ups when Twitter contacts create new posts. Acting on the message is optional; the window eventually (and thankfully) fades out on its own if no action is taken. Judging from the current "news" streaming on the Twitter homepage, we can only hope our friends don't become exhibitionists overnight, which is quite possibly what this tumblelogging thing may do to them. Buzzbums notes that nobody's yet sure what Twitter is good for, although the implementation of tagging may permit some useful forms to start taking shape.
The notion that users are atwitter over something that presently lacks a practical form brings the birth of Friendster to mind. In many ways Friendster's birth marks the period when personal bubbles finally broke. Users enthusiastically added "friends" to a list of contacts they had no intention of meeting. While Friendster may not be the It app on the street anymore, the fascination with making connections for connections' sake clearly lives on.
However, it might be easier than Buzzbums thinks to find a use for Twitter. Enterprises who build a user base of enthusiastic consumers can easily use Twitter to cost-effectively keep their brands salient in the public mind. Indeed, the adorable pastel-coloured Web 2.0 app could transition into a powerful Enterprise 2.0 tool much the way its cousins, blogs and wikis, did.
Blogs enable discriminating users to pursue information about people they're curious about or topics they're into. Twitter succeeds in cutting out the pursuit, reducing the act of news-gleaning to what can be called "the phatic function." Coined by Roman Jakobson, Ian Curry notes "the phatic function is communication simply to indicate that communication can occur."
We think the dramatic changes internet-based social networking has wreaked on personal and professional lives has more than demonstrated that communication occurs well and often, thank you. Moving forward, here's to hoping it occurs responsibly.
If for some reason you're not tired of buzzwords, read more about what's going on in Universe 2.0: Vox wins Best Web 2.0 Innovation, SamePage 3.1 better utilizes the benefits of wikis and blogs, and even history isn't safe from the 2.0 bug.
San Francisco-based Obvious, a two-month-old Odeo, Inc. spin-off, holds base in our dear little San Francisco, California. They like making interesting things that matter to the world. Sound a little obvious? Hit their website for some deeper reasoning or jump on the the Twitter train. And while you're there don't forget to get up-to-speed on your Twitter lingo!